Leap

Austin Nguyen - Ecuador


August 24, 2015

A few weeks ago, I stood on the edge of a cliff, 20 feet over the surface of a pool of water. My friends and I had come to a place in Santa Cruz to swim and cliff-jump, and I somehow found myself scaling the rocks, climbing higher and higher until I found myself in a position by which the only way that you could get down was by jumping.

Then, I stood and took deep breaths. I was scared of heights. My legs were shaking, despite all of my efforts to calm myself. Just jump, I had thought to myself. You know you can make it.

I readied myself. My feet were planted. I squatted down, sucked in a bit of air, and…. slipped a little bit. My feet had shifted slightly, but I managed to regain my balance. Well, I thought. That was scary. I looked down at the water below, and the sight of just how far down it was made me shudder. This… this is way scary.

I was downright terrified. The water seemed so far away, and my mind was racing, jumbling from thought to thought – What if I slip? What are my friends thinking? What if I hit a rock on the way down? Can I even jump far enough to make it? What if…. What if when I come home, everything’s different? How comfortable will I be in Ecuador?

What am I leaving behind? No, I know the answer to that – my friends, my family, my culture, language, my whole world – that’s what I’m leaving. Eight months is a long time, you know.

I shook my head. My mind had started to wander. What did cliff-jumping have to do with Global Citizen Year? What, me being out of my comfort zone, about to make a leap of faith into something, whilst feeling an incredible mixture of fear, anticipation, and adrenaline surging through my entire body? What does – well, actually, maybe there is some similarity. But this is different! This is….

I glanced down at the water again. If you don’t jump now, when will you ever be able to? It’s scary. It’s terrifying. But it’s going to be fun. You won’t regret it.

I steeled myself and sighed. Yeah. Let’s go. I took one last deep breath, and I leapt off.

Fast forward to today, and I am sitting in the lounge of the Alliance Redwoods Training Grounds, near the small town of Occidental, California. I’m typing on my computer as the internet signals wavers from perfectly strong to virtually nonexistent. I leave for Ecuador in just five more days.

Man, only five days. I am at once exhilarated and terrified.

A few weeks ago, I leapt off of that cliff, into a storm of anxiety and excitement, and I am still falling.

 

Austin Nguyen